News24 speaks to mom of kidnapped toddler: 'He picked up habits from abductors'

2015-12-08 09:51
Relebogile "Ditsebe" Tsotetsi and his mom. (Naledi Shange, News24)

Relebogile "Ditsebe" Tsotetsi and his mom. (Naledi Shange, News24)

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Johannesburg - It's been almost a week since 1-year-old Relebogile "Ditsebe" Tsotetsi was found left outside a petrol station with a note tied to his clothes. He had been abducted.

But now his mother believes her son has picked up some of the habits of his abductors.

"We have noticed now that he sometimes uses tissues when he touches door handles," said his mother Patricia Schraffl, who owns a funeral parlour.

"We don't know where he gets that from. Also, he now has a habit of taking off his nappy and trying to pee in a two-litre empty cold drink bottle," said Schraffl.

These are some of the things which she thinks her son saw his abductors do during his week-long ordeal.

The toddler, who is now undergoing counselling, was taken at gunpoint by a gang of armed men who entered his mother’s house late at night on Wednesday, November 25.

After a week of agony, the boy was found by a security officer at 01:00, wandering between a petrol station and a car dealership.

The boy had a note with him with a warning for both his parents, who are separated.

"Attention Attention Mpoku Funeral Parlour. We hope you have learned your lesson. You must tell Mmtlalepula that we want our money... Or Else..."

Mmtlalepula is the boy's father. The parents broke up earlier this year.

'He knew exactly where the safe was'

Schraffl said she had no idea what the note meant, but she and her children were now living in fear.

She said two of her children are her biological offspring, while three are foster children.

When News24 visited the family home in Meyerton, two bodyguards were close by, monitoring the house.

There were two dogs on the premises and a panic button mounted on the wall.

There were also several surveillance cameras.

Schraffl said the family has had their fair share of bad luck this year.

On August 7, they were victims of an armed robbery.

"One wanted the key to the safe and he knew exactly where the safe was," said Schraffl.

The perpetrator hit her on the head with a gun and his accomplices stole several items, including television screens and cash.

Now, three months later, the family has found themselves in the same situation.

Schraffl said she had received a call from a person claiming to be one of her clients.

They asked her to come and collect a body from Everton.

"We were all already in our night gowns, but I asked my elder son to take out the car while I checked if I could locate someone to help me," said Schraffl.

'The guy cocked the gun and demanded the child'

She said that while she was in the house, she saw on her camera that the gate had been opened and there was a man in the yard.

Schraffl told the children to press the panic button, move to the bedroom and call the police.

The person knocked on the door.

After a few minutes, the police and armed response came and found that the perpetrators had cut open the lock. The intruders were nowhere to be found.

"I told my son to put the van back because it seems like this was a false call," said Schraffl, suspecting that the caller had simply wanted to lure her out of the house.

But a few minutes later, there was another call from the same customer who was angry, claiming that he was still waiting for her to collect the body.

The armed response and police had just left when Schraffl prepared herself to leave the house again, but as she opened the door, she found two armed men outside.

"The guy cocked the gun and demanded the child. They held me by my T-shirt and pushed me towards the cot of the child," said Schraffl.

'I really wish he could tell me what had happened'

She felt helpless as she watched the men make off with her baby.

"My other kids prevented me from going after them. They said I was going to get shot. I saw the car turn and leave," she said.

Schraffl said she went everywhere looking for her baby, including to the child's father.

He and Schraffl had not spoken since the maintenance court had ordered him to pay child support.

He had not done so yet.

As Schraffl spoke, little Ditsebe played with a new puppy.

"I really wish he could tell me what had happened to him because at the moment, he can only string a few words together," she said.

Schraffl said she felt as though she knew who her son's abductors were.

But for now, no arrests have been made.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime  |  abductions

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